Simplicity. Because the revolution will not be televised.

Via Ben Ralston
on Oct 17, 2010
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When my wife and I first moved into our hilltop home / retreat center amongst the farmland and forests of Eastern Slovenia, we left our T.V. behind.

Hills, forest, farmland; no tsunami!

We’d decided to simplify…

Our courtship was in an ashram, and the austerity of our lives there brought us face to face and heart to heart and soul to soul in ways that I had dreamt of, yet had not dared dream of.

Our courtship was unlike any other I had experienced – and I’d experienced many; mostly fast and furious, and without real substance. But meeting Petra was like tasting a fruit that I’d never heard of before; it was a totally new, fresh experience, that burst into my senses and spread through my body, mind, and spirit.

We spent 6 months getting to know each other the old fashioned way. Surrounded as we were by Swamis who had taken vows of renunciation (my intention on coming there was to become a Swami myself!) we couldn’t express our feelings for each other in a physical way; we couldn’t even hold hands there!

So we talked when we could, but mostly just ‘tuned in’ to each other’s energy, bathing in the electric awareness of loving presence that seemed to surround us whenever we happened to be in the same room.

It was a magical time; also frustrating as hell! Having grown up in a culture of microwaves, one-night stands, and instant coffee, it was the supreme lesson in patience that I unwittingly needed.

Our first ‘date’ was to the cinema, to see ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’, chaperoned at the last moment by a Swami who shuffled down the aisle, stepping over people’s legs in the semi-dark, in his orange robes with an orange knapsack, and pulling out a thermos flask to ask, grinning from ear to ear:


The soundtrack to our courtship was all Kirtan and Indian flute and tabla. And our shared favorite was “I am the eternal seeker of peace, love, and simplicity”. Those three words are on our wedding rings now, even if mine is somewhere in the Atlantic off the coast of the Algarve (long story, another time).

So when we moved in to our new house, we shed our television in the name of simplicity. And so I come to the point of this little story:

Soon after moving in, we met our postman for the first time. Please bear in mind that we live several hundred kilometers from the sea…

The postman sped up the steep hill and turned sharply into our driveway, sending gravel spinning in all directions. He huffed and puffed his way out of the van towards us, immediately sensing that he was stepping into a different world: Petra and I had just spent 2 hours meditating and practicing asanas and pranayama, and were feeling deeply mellow. He was on guard; this was unknown territory… he clocked our car; in those days a mobile advertisement for our yoga business.

He became visibly suspicious.

Handing us our post, he asked us about the car. We explained that we taught yoga, and he immediately asked us, rather indignantly – as if the very idea were some kind of travesty –  if we were vegetarian. When we replied that we were, he looked worried. He questioned us about protein, and didn’t look at all convinced.

Then he glanced at our house.

“You don’t have a t.v. antenna”

“No, we don’t need one, because we don’t have a t.v.”

Incredulous: “You don’t have a TV?!”

Smiling: “No!”

Wide eyed: “But what will you do” glancing furtively over his shoulder “if there’s a Tsunami”!

Now, I have no idea how he thought that a t.v. would help us if a Tsunami magically appeared on our hilltop above the clouds.

No idea. But I realized something very profound that day: Television makes people afraid, whilst reassuring them that they’re safe as long as they watch it…


If love is light, and fear is the shadow in which we all too often get lost, then television can be a serious obstacle between us and the light.

I’m not saying that you should trash the television: but watching it less never hurts, and awareness is all. Petra and I actually have t.v. in our home now; we use it mostly to watch dvd’s.

Bonus video, Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’:


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


21 Responses to “Simplicity. Because the revolution will not be televised.”

  1. Ramesh says:

    Hi Ben, wonderful article, especially the old-fashioned courtship part. Very rare these days!
    I don't watch TV on my TV, just DVDs that I pick out and thus stay away from TV news, which I find to be quite toxic to the mind…! So, yes, turn off those channels, folks.

  2. Great article, Ben. I loved this

    Bob W.

  3. helene_rose says:

    Hi Ben ~
    I love your description your courtship. Very sweet and worth the wait! I don't have a TV and sometimes do feel a bit disconnected with happenings around town and the world.
    ~ Helene

  4. Neil says:

    My family are half way there – a tv with no channels – we choose when we will watch – now for the next step!! Love your articles!

  5. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes, courtship is v rare these days! I think it's so important now: no wonder the divorce rate is soaring when people have sex with each other before getting to know each other.
    I advise all young people: if you think that you really like someone, hold off on the sex! It makes for a much better relationship later…

  6. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Bob 🙂

  7. Ben_Ralston says:

    You're connected via Elephant Journal!
    I have a friend who was a t.v. journalist years ago, and she says that almost everything is just made up. Scary.
    Anyway, I can't stand the news, it's always so exaggerated… and do we really need to know what's going on everywhere? No, it's just a distraction from being here, now.
    ps – we're 3 weeks away from due date 🙂

  8. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Neil, really appreciate your saying so!
    T.V. with no channels sounds great – don't get me wrong, I think t.v. can be a really useful tool: loads of great things to watch and learn from… just got to filter out all the crap! Sounds like you've got it sorted, so well done!

  9. Ben Ralston says:

    Yeah! Hurray for the t.v.-less revolution!

    It’s time for each of us human beings to step up and start co-creating, instead of just *consuming* endless quantities of entertainments, food, and stuff… our nature is creative; we’re never happy when we’re not being creative.

    Glad to hear your son will grow up in that environment 🙂

    Love, Ben

  10. Lynn Hasselberger says:

    Love this Ben! Beautiful courtship (inspiring me to write about my own as we approach 18 years!). Simplicity is wonderful in and of itself. We have a TV, which is in the basement. I could live without it, except its nice to have when I work out. And my husband is a history addict, so he's got to have the history channel. My son loves the cooking channel and, of course, nonsense kids shows but is limited to 1/2 hour/day during the school week. I know many who just have the TV on all day. I don't really get it, but then I'm on my computer all day LOL!

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hey Birdie,
    The view from my balcony no less. Come for a retreat and see for yourself!
    I'm the luckiest boy in the universe. The balcony ain't the half of it 🙂

  12. Randall Smith says:

    Ben, thanks for yet another awesome article! This is the first thing I have read since rising this morning!

    First of all, congratulations on your impending fatherhood!

    I have been with and without a TV since college…it has been both a tool and a distraction and being mindful of which is which can sometimes be a challenge..however, if I lived in a setting like yours, why would I bother (except for the dvd part)? Obviously, you must have some great interweb service there in Slovenia, and I find that more useful than TV.

    I am only an occasional practitioner of yoga, thanks to my ex-yogini girlfriend. It was the best gift she shared with me, and with people like you who share so freely the joy and contentment in your life, yoga will become a larger part of my experience. Thanks.


    PS: What took you to Slovenia?

  13. […] gratitude to Ben R. for sparking this idea inside me to write this! Helene Rose is a mother of two children. She loves to work with […]

  14. helene_rose says:

    Hi Ben! How exciting for your little one to be arriving soon. Enjoy these days!
    It IS a distraction from LIFE!

  15. candicegarrett says:

    sounds like a wonderful existence!

  16. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks for the sweet message Randall.
    You're absolutely right – it requires a degree of mindfulness to control the t.v. habit!
    We actually have a terrible, terrible internet connection here! The only access we have is via a wireless transmitter that is *way* across the hills on the other side of a valley about 10 kilometres away. It's actually some kind of a miracle it works at all… but some days it doesn't!
    Yoga is truly wonderful. I hope you continue to enjoy it more and more.

    What took me to Slovenia? Petra did – we fell in love, and she had just trained to be a yoga teacher. She wanted to come back here and teach people in her home town what she'd learnt, so I decided to come with her and help out! Been here ever since… it's a beautiful, unspoilt country.

    With love, Ben

  17. integralhack says:

    What a beautiful place! Your simplified lifestyle is an inspiration.

  18. Jill Barth says:

    "If love is light, and fear is the shadow in which we all too often get lost, then television can be a serious obstacle between us and the light"

    Lovely. So often we don't even recognize the obstacles, particulary the muddled mix that is TV.

  19. Ben_Ralston says:

    science, health, history, nature channels… great!
    If I was you though, I'd lay down a few ground rules with the best friend… to make sure she stays 'best'!
    Love, Ben

  20. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks IH,
    simplicity really is a cornerstone of life I believe.
    I'm reading a book called simplicity parenting at the moment, and it's confirmed to me just how important it is: the author basically says that if you take a child with add, adhd, ocd, or some other kind of attention problem, and simplifiy their environment, lifestyle, etc… then there's a great chance you can completely bring that child back from disorder. Which totally makes sense to me.
    Complexity = stress. We can handle it, but it's stressful.
    Stress over long term = disease. Eventually, stress kills.
    So, be inspired! Live simple!

  21. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thanks Jill, I liked that line too 🙂
    Recognition is the first step, then acceptance, then action!